Category Archives: Technology

How to Become Indispensable?

Critics say that Linchpin is Seth Godin’s most passionate book and I have to agree. First, he reveals that “there are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do.” Linchpins who hold meaningful jobs don’t just follow orders. They add creativity-filled innovation and thus, create art.

Seth shows how to free people so they can become artists, which means creators of unique and compelling value. It does not matter what these individuals do for living. It’s the attitude that matters. Linchpin’s drive and passion make it possible to create art every day.

If people can become artists, “they will rise to a level you can’t even imagine. When people realize that they are not an easily replaceable commodity….they produce more than you pay them to, because you are paying them with something worth more than money …” People crave connection and respect.

As an individual, you can’t become a linchpin merely because you are different.

Linchpin is a most unusual, thought-provoking and concise book about becoming indispensable, whether you work for someone else or are self-employed. Godin’s principles can be applied to other aspects of life. Linchpins can be spouses, friends and community members. They can be indispensable in many ways.

Godin says that if you want customers to flock to you, it’s tempting to race to the bottom of the price chart. There’s plenty of room there, but the only way to win is to race to the top.

Are you indispensable? Do you create art?

6 Ways to Grow Your Small Business

Common sense, but overlooked pieces of advice on how to grow a business. Check these out to decide whether any of them could become growth-growing points in your business.

* Find an edge over competition. Look at your industry’s biggest cost and time constraints and focus on those areas of your business.

* Describe your business in 1-2 words. Own a phrase that illustrates your product or service. Then Google it to see if you have chosen the right one.

* Focus on one measurable priority for your company, not a dozen. For 90 days, focus on one problem area of your business.

* Control your cash flow. Construct a business model that fuels your growth without the need for outside financing.

* Use blogs, white papers, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter to align your marketing materials with the phrase you own.

* Make changes faster. The fastest-moving companies huddle daily to drive their priorities.

Add More Hours to Your Day – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

The most common problem among many small business owners is “time poverty.” Putting in a lot of extra hours could help, but it’s not the answer. Neither is trying to do two things at once.

* Become an expert at what you do. Study the workflows of people who are efficient and copy them. Learn from experts in your field.

* Prioritize. What is the most important thing on your list? Focus on that alone until you are finished.

* Be open to new ideas. Some overwhelmed people think they already know all they need to know on a subject. Never stop learning.

* Become an expert of time management. Then practice every day until you master time management skills.

Read Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book was released in 2001 and remains a best seller as it fuels global demand for Mr. Allen’s workshops and personal coaching. Amazingly, he has established an industry around a simple approach to getting things done.

What Is the Difference Between a Tri-fold Brochure, Case Study and a White Paper?

Pen on NotebookI have never been a big fan of tri-fold brochures that attempt to convince me that I should buy a particular product or sign up for a certain service.   These marketing materials tend not to be persuasive enough due to the fact that information has been crammed into a limited space.  The customer benefits are not always obvious, contrary to emotional appeal – nice images, unusual fonts and unique paper may catch my attention, but not for long.

White papers appeal more to me as they provide logic through facts, statistics and quotes from end users or industry experts. They are not flashy, but usually filled with facts.  For me, they are much more informative. I consider writing a good white paper a real art form as the author has to be a good researcher, persuasive essayist and a marketer all at once.  At the same time, a good balance between the right amount of facts, images, quotes and often industry terms has to be achieved.  Case studies tend to focus on customer stories and testimonials whereas white papers add a touch of credibility through unbiased information.

High quality content is becoming increasingly important as people crave useful information and have access to growing number of information channels before making buying decisions.  All marketing materials should educate; therefore, business people, especially marketers, need to become avid readers and dedicated students to continuously improve their skills.  I am planning to master the art of writing effective white papers in 2010 to deliver quality leads for my own business and customers. I encourage you to do the same. Good content leads to good customers.

Are You Fatigued by Facebook and Twitter?

GOP imageFacebook gave us a way to find old classmates and renew friendships, find clients and share ideas.

Email has given us a way to quickly conduct business or send silly stuff to co-workers and friends.

So now we have IM, text messaging, friends on Facebook, and constant communication by 140 characters or less on Twitter.

All of this messaging is great as it is supposed to bring us closer to our friends and find new ones, but if we aren’t careful, these interactions can harm our real-life relationships. Columnist Elizabeth Bernstein quite recently said that she is experiencing Facebook fatigue because loved ones are sending so many photos of their children or parties, forwarding funky quizzes, and posting dozens of jokes. And they are tweeting about their whereabouts and what they are doing at the present moment.

To improve our daily interactions, Bernstein says: Before posting an item, ask yourself if it’s something you would want one of your contacts to send to you. Reward people by responding to interesting messages.

While private blogs can be platforms for political ranting, it can be considered poor form on Facebook to constantly post your political opinions.

Edgy Presentations Add More Power to Your Social Media Marketing

Presentation Zen

I started looking for alternative presentation tools for one of my always traveling friends and found  Zoho Show .  It is completely free for personal use,  presenters can access their presentations from anywhere.  You can  export your slideshow to PowerPoint if needed, share your presentation online and track how many people have viewed it.

Presentation sharing site Slideshare is growing in popularity,  users can upload Word documents,  text files, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations,  PDF files as well as files created with Open Office (odt) and access them from the Slideshare site when presenting.  There is a 100 MB maximum allowed upload file size limit.

OpenOffice 3 Impress is a free software for creating effective multimedia presentations. You can use 2D and 3D clip art, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools.  It is possible to save your slideshow as a PowerPoint file.

Google Presentations belong to the Google Docs and Spreadsheets family. One advantage that Google Presentations has over PowerPoint is the fact that all steps – the presentation creation, development, viewing and sharing can  take place online.

Sliderocket is another emerging web-based tool.  Users can incorporate video and publish their presentations online or embed them on their websites.  Their free plan provides 250 MB of storage.

And yes, you have to learn presentation design from Garr Reynolds

Spice up your presentations, spread your ideas!

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From Purple Cows to Tribes and Free Prizes – Seth Godin Has Mastered Edgecraft

Cover of "Free Prize Inside"

Cover of Free Prize Inside

In his book, Free Prize Inside, Seth Godin points out that innovation is cheaper than advertising.  He defines the “free prize” as that extra, edgy product feature. His examples include swatch watches, frequent flyer miles, Tupperware parties, and portable shredding trucks. Design and style matter, he says.

One chapter describes how brainstorming can become boring. His alternative, “edgecraft,” involves analytical thinking to add something remarkable to a product.  His laundry list of edges includes safety, invisibility, and hours of operation. Much of the book deals with how to sell great innovative ideas to the VIPs of any given company.

Purple Cow taught marketers the importance of standing out from the crowd. But it left readers wondering how to come up with new purple cows.

Free Prize Inside delivers answers.

Godin says that if a product satisfies and gets consumers to tell other people what you want them to tell other people, it’s not a gimmick. It’s an experience worth talking about. It’s a soft innovation.

Anne Fisher of Fortune has told that Godin is a “guru you’d love to discount because he seems so cocky, but it’s hard to do because he’s so rarely wrong.”

I love  Seth Godin’s books, as they are always thought provoking, insightful,
unusual, edgy, non-academic and inspirational.

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Running Late? – Share Your Where with Glympse

A free service for cellphones, called Glympse, lets you share your location in small increments of time. By fall, it will be available for most phones.

This software from Android Market shows where you are on a map and will allow you to share your location by sending a Glympse to a person or people. It’s available for blocks of time up to four hours. Selecting four hours means recipients can track you for that period, no matter where you go, including the speed of the car. You can share your location with a business partner, client or your family.

Glympses can also include a short message.

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Did Microsoft Soften Yahoo’s Heart?

This is what I wrote in March 2008:

“I have been following Mr. Microsoft’s chase after Ms. Yahoo and have to announce today – this “soap opera” did not have a happy ending, or maybe it was Mission Impossible after all….

Mr. Microsoft did not win Ms.Yahoo’s heart. He tried, adding more bells and whistles to his marriage proposal, but Ms. Yahoo said NO and is still waiting for a Prince On A White Horse to come and rescue her from the Land of Uncertainty. Ms. Yahoo has been winking at Mr. Google who is way more skilled than her at search and online advertising…but their relationship is still in the early stages, and the two of them have not found solid common ground yet…..

Something tells me that this story will have a sequel as Mr. Microsoft is restless, desperately trying to find a partner who would balance his shortcomings in web advertising and search. He was hoping to create a harmonious island (cloud) with Ms. Yahoo, but did not find the right key to her heart.”

Times have changed.

Microsoft and Yahoo have a deal.

Is this a marriage of convenience? Will Yahoo stay at home and stay out of the search/advertising game?

Collaboration is Key in Virtual Communications

I am always looking for good web-based collaboration tools as I constantly need to collaborate virtually. That’s how I found Onehub, this tool is not simply for collaboration, it can be used as an FTP replacement. With a free account you can only set up one hub, where you basically can  upload 1 GB of files. Your hub can include calendars as well in addition to discussion boards, task lists, images, RSS feeds and video.

Paid accounts are available too – from $19 per month up to $249 per month. Details are available on the Onehub website.

Central Desktop  is a great collaboration and project management platform.  It has too much power for a solopreneur, but is great for teams and workgroups to share information and communicate with other members.  Paid accounts start from $25 per month.